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Smartrac Hopes to Release Green RFID Tags Within a Year
The Dutch firm indicates the new passive tags will be almost completely biodegradable after use, to reduce waste, while being priced similarly to current tags.
Oct 15, 2009—In anticipation of the widespread deployment of RFID technology to consumer applications, a new generation of passive RFID tags is being developed by Smartrac. According to the Dutch firm, the new tags will be almost completely biodegradable after use, in order to reduce waste, and be priced similarly to current non-biodegradable RFID tags. The first such products could be available within a year, the firm reports.
Smartrac's chief technology officer, Manfred Rietzler, says his company is developing the technology now because it anticipates RFID will soon be adopted in a range of new consumer applications, including ticketing and consumer packaging.
"Our target is to prepare ourselves for the time when RFID transponders will be embedded into more or less any consumer product," Rietzler says.
Amsterdam-based Smartrac—which has approximately 2,600 employees worldwide—currently manufactures RFID inlays used in passports and contactless credit cards, as well as RFID transponders for public transportation systems. The firm is leveraging its expertise in transponder design and manufacturing to develop the biodegradable product line.
RFID transponders are presently made of thin polymer substrates (such as PVC or PET films), a metal antenna and a silicon microchip. The current generation of RFID tags, Rietzler says, are not considered an environmental threat, and are as recyclable as most consumer packaging. The composition of a standard Gen 2 EPC tag is similar that of a potato chip bag, he explains, though he adds that the potato chip bag has 10 times or more aluminum than an RFID tag.
The new generation of tags will be completely composed of biodegradable components, except for the antenna and chip. The imperative driving the research and development of biodegradable tags, Rietzler notes, is the technology's potential ubiquity in the near future.
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